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Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins. —James 4:17, NIV
Years ago I heard a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody. There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. In the end, Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.
I once read about a shocking incident that shows the principles of this story at work—tragically—in real life. In 1964 Catherine Genovese was stabbed to death over a period of 35 minutes while 38 neighbors watched. Their reaction was described as cold and uncaring, a result of urban apathy and alienation. Later, research by Latane and Darley revealed that no one had helped simply because there were so many observers. The observers looked to one another for guidance on what to do. Since no one was doing anything, they determined that no one should be doing anything.
People are less likely to receive help in time of need as the number of by-standers increases. A student appearing to have an epileptic seizure was helped 85 percent of the time when only one bystander was present, but when several people were standing by and watching he received help only 31 percent of the time.
This study proves that the more people do nothing, the more people will do nothing, but if even a small group of committed people will begin to reach out to others with care and love, smiles and compliments, appreciation and respect, the movement can and will grow.
We are affected by the actions of people around us. We look to one another for direction, often without even knowing it. Most people will agree with the majority even if they really don’t agree.
If, as Christians, we want to demonstrate love to the world around us, we must become examples to others instead of merely following the crowd.
Love OthersToday: When you have the ability to help someone, don’t assume somebody else will do it. Do it yourself.